I have frequently considered the metaphor of being the candle amidst the darkness. If my surroundings are too much, they’re too strong, too windy, or too dark, my strength, hope, and faith can be blown out. This can be rekindled with complete immersion in a loving, supportive community...
A new city. New Haven. Morning Prayer. Candlelit Compline. Tutoring kids. Working within the public schools. Cozy living with 8 in a newly somewhat-refurbished apartment. Biking to work. Sharing communion on the green with those who are homeless. Trying to rekindle that sense of awe. Hearing excellent music. Dressing business casual every day. Witnessing fatigue and trying to exude energy. Feeling rejuvenated after talking with fellow service corps members. Morning Prayer. Hearing how to pray in new ways. Chatting with Berkley students. Reading dense theological pieces. House dinners. Trying to keep things somewhat clean. Deep clean the abandoned rectory across the street. Dance parties. Early morning rows on the Housatonic. Coming to see the politics of education, service work, and churches. Rite One. Rite Two. The Book of Common Prayer. Kneel. Stand. Chant. The ocean. Climbing trees. Exploring corners of the city. Trying to help people feel at home, feel safe.
I just got back from a Compline service that we ran on the green amidst Occupy New Haven. I was struck by the peace and beauty that we helped to share. After gathering supplies from Christ Church, we strolled to the green with three wearing cassocks. We used a mic check with repeats to announce our service and we picked up a few curious strangers throughout the green. Each lit a candle to hold, and we shared Compline. Reading the psalm and saying the creeds felt incredibly meaningful outside on the green in a candlelit circle. After it finished, the four of us St. Hildans kept our candles lit and started walking back to the church. We began singing.
Many slow, meaningful worship songs were shared amongst us as we walked down Elm Street in downtown New Haven. If one of our candles was blown out, another helped re-light it. I was struck by the power of others surrounding and supporting you. I have frequently considered the metaphor of being the candle amidst the darkness. If my surroundings are too much, they’re too strong, too windy, or too dark, my strength, hope, and faith can be blown out. This can be rekindled with complete immersion in a loving, supportive community: if I go back inside to a roaring fire. I had always imagined being the sole candle in a sea of darkness upon leaving such a community. It was my responsibility to bring this joy, this love to those who have not yet seen any.
However, tonight reminded me that I do not have to be alone in this darkness. I do not have to solve the problems of this world on my own, with solely the strength fed to me from God. Likewise, I do not have to be in a paradise room of light at all times, inviting people into this brightness away from what they know. I can bring light to traverse the darkness, the chaos of this world, as long as I’m alongside others who can re-light me if I am blown out and whom I can re-light if they blow out.
As we were walking back toward the church, everyone’s candles blew out at some point. However, since at least one would remain lit, we could continue walking down the dark street with our blazes of light. We could walk through the black wind thanks to each other’s support. I hope, I believe that our community throughout this year can re-kindle each other’s motivation, re-inspire each other to perform the difficult service projects we all have throughout New Haven. If we are stretched too thin in a day, if we lose hope, those surrounding us can re-light our passion.
Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12
Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105